We’re just hanging around and checking out some infrared pics of koalas hugging trees. University of Melbourne scientists took the images to prove that the animals clutch trees as heat sinks to help them cope with Australia’s extreme heat.
Zoology postgraduate researcher Natalie Briscoe says tree surfaces can be 8 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit cooler during the hottest summer days. Access to these trees can save about half the water a koala would need to keep cool on a hot day,” she said in a university statement. “This significantly reduces the amount of heat stress for koalas.”
Michael Kearney, a University of Melbourne zoology professor who coauthored the study, said, “The findings were important as climate change is bringing about more extreme weather. When we took the heat imagery it dramatically confirmed our idea that ‘tree hugging’ was an important cooling behaviour in extreme heat. Cool tree trunks are likely to be an important microhabitat during hot weather for other tree dwelling species including primates, leopards, birds and invertebrates.”
Their study was published in the journal Biology Letters.